India calls for review of 'hair-trigger'
doctrine to reduce tensions
In a major initiative at the United Nations General Assembly, India today proposed a resolution entitled
'Reducing nuclear danger'.
"We hope this initiative aimed at focusing international attention on the clear and present danger will receive widespread attention," Leader of the Opposition Sharad Pawar said.
Pawar was speaking at the UN First Committee, which deals with issues of international security and disarmament.
This is the first time a resolution has been proposed before the world body drawing attention to the dangers posed by the doctrine of "hair-trigger alert" of nuclear weapons, which entails the risk of accidental or unintentional use.
The resolution proposed by India calls upon all states with nuclear weapons to take immediate steps to reduce the risk of their unintentional or accidental use.
It notes that the reduction of tensions brought about by a change in nuclear doctrine could have a positive impact on international peace and security, improving the climate for further reduction and the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.
Significantly, the resolution recognises the need to review nuclear doctrines with a view to arriving at a globally negotiated "no-first-use" agreement.
India already has a stated policy of "no first use" of nuclear weapons and no use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.
The practice of keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert evolved during the Cold War. At the height of the Cold War, there were several thousand nuclear warheads in the American and Soviet arsenals ready for launch within moments.
While the political animosities have since subsided, the nuclear doctrines inherited from the era remain intact, though some measures to "de-alert" and "de-target" the weapons have been undertaken.
Even now it is estimated that there are more than 5,000 nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert. There is thus a continuing threat of their accidental or unintentional launch.
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